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Magashule Houdini act, a Damascus moment to Zimbabwean politics

22 Feb 2021 at 21:05hrs | Views
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule pulled a fast one this past week when he took a swipe at his party's national executive committee saying that only party branches can remove him from his position. The remarks were a Damascene to Africa and African politics. It had far reaching implications.

He caught everyone unaware. He dribbled past the most impregnable hurdle in a smart way.

For a moment one would think that the remarks he made hours after appearing in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court  in a R255m asbestos corruption case were sheer arrogance,but it had much in it.

The most basic unit of political organizations is the individual member and the immediate basic structure they fall into either the cell,the branch or the district. As minute as they are they're the lifeblood of the entire organization.

The remarks were a sign of defiance, in clear contrast to a decision taken by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting last weekend in which guidelines on the issue of "step aside" were adopted,YES but it afforded the same organization time to rethink. Who owns the party,whose voice or voices matter in the party.

In adopting the guidelines, the NEC said to refine them, the party had to get input from ANC provinces which would then be processed by the national working committee.

Like many African political parties the ANC NEC made no mention of the branches they found them inferior and not smart enough to direct party opinion.Magashule used the loophole to strike he told world that branches should pass their resolve before a decision could be taken. Here in Zimbabwe we have seen members of the Houuse of the Assembly,councillors and at one point a deputy president being recalled by the most elite organ of the organization without consulting the sovereign owners of the same organization.

Such moves basically remove the importance of basics and promotes elitism. The voters are always disenfranchised in many ways the people whom they vote don't owe power from the electorate but the party elite organ. This was seen when Chibi South House of the Assembly representative Killer Zivhu was recalled by Zanu PF despite being a favourite amongst the electorate. So was the MDC Alliance. The decision to recall the representatives were taken by the top unit as opposed to the basic structure.

The motive however noble they might be disenfranchise voters. It takes away their power or at worst undermine their existence. According to Magashule,"In the step aside, the NEC has taken a clear decision to refer the guidelines to the structures of the ANC — from branches, regions and provinces — and our structures, the basic units, will actually discuss those matters and that's why we have taken them there,".

"Remember the highest decision-making body is the national conference which appoints people, which elects leaders and if you have to do certain things you have to go back and further get the mandate from those structures, the original structures, the basic structures",he said.

Many political parties today only exist at national level and do not have the grassroots. It won't be amazing that some national leaders of political parties do not identify with a particular cell or branch of the organization they represent.

This makes representation skewed and distorted.

Magashule's stance seemed to have borrowed a lot from Tinei Whande of Economic Reform Agenda (ERA) one of the so many fringe political parties in Zimbabwe,Whande argued that political parties must be built from the cell upwards as opposed to the norm that exists in various organizations. ANC looks screwed with this one from Magashule,but they're not alone in this predicament. Many African political leaders find themselves disconnected from the cell. In most cases the higher they climbed the more they loose identity.

In the wake of Zanu PF Masvingo DCC elections in November 2020,an old lady came out gun blazing accusing the party of planting unknown people to represent them. According to the lady most of the party leaders began their careers way at the top without cell or branch existence. She mentioned Ephraim Chadzamira blankly.

What Magashule did serves as a lesson that political parties must value the voices of the basic units of the organization.

Government or political organizations under conditions of representative democracy , ideally speaking, survive on the premise that ‘the people' are ultimately ‘sovereign'.

The 'sovereign' power followed from this formulation entails that while perfect accord between representatives and the represented couldn't ever be achieved, steps towards self-correction could and should always be taken. In the lonely hour of the last instance, ‘the people' must always have the final say in determining who governs. It's the people that matter. In the decisive moment Magashule pulled it and it worked. So well.

It is very plausible to argue that Magashule used the branches as a pawn in the chess game,by and large it was a political move. It can be argued, but in striving for mimesis - a closure of the gap between citizens and their representatives - representative democracy, according to its own standards, constantly chased after the unattainable. Simon Tormey in his book 'The end of Representative politics'  representation self-inscribed, openly declared lack of perfection stemmed from the fact that it embraced the principle of disappointment: the recognition that representatives and citizens are ultimately not identical.

Greek political scientist Hanna Pitkin,once noted ‘the paradox of representation': that citizens have to be absent in order to be re-presented but also present in order to be re-presented. Seen in terms of the deep tension that is inherent in the process of representation, this is the whole point of elections: they are weapons for periodically cheering up the disappointed. Political parties must let the people decide who to recall and who to deploy if we are to achieve representational democracy.

If representatives were always virtuous, impartial, competent and fully responsive to the wishes of the represented, elections would lose their purpose. The represented would be identical with their representatives; representation would lose its meaning; the animating disjunction between what ‘is' and what ‘can be' or ‘ought to be' would consequently collapse.

In his address that was broadcasted by Alpha Media's Heart and Soul TV Morgan Kimochi shamelessly said that people in the MDC T and loosely the MDC Alliance belonged to the late Morgan Tsvangirai. Komichi appeared to ignore the fact that political leaders are deployed by the people they represent,they owe their power to them. According him the elite organ of the party owns the people,they call the tune. Maybe this is why they have blatant disregard people's wishes when they recall their voted representatives from Parliament or councils. It is wrong in every sense when a leader owns those whom he lead. Such acts erodes the essence of representation.

The Damascus moment that shone on ANC must be a wake up call for African political parties in general and Zimbabwean political parties in particular. To political leaders whose capital is heading north the likes of Julius Malema,Bobi Wine,Nelson Chamisa to mention a few it's the people that matter. You derive political power from their consent.

Source - Taruberekera Masara in Pretoria
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